What struck me the most after our visit to Minister's Island is how important passion, hobbies and trying new things are for adults just as they are for kids. To learn the history of a man who pursued his interests as strong as his career is nice to see.
Minister's Island is a 470-acre Maritime tidal island that's located in New Brunswick Canada. It is accessible only in low tide by way of a wide gravel bar. There is a long history of people living on the Island. It was occupied by the Passamaquoddy First Nation for a long time and then Loyalists. Today the most famous former resident was Sir William Van Horne.
Sir William Van Horne was truly a renaissance man. Van Horne is most famous for overseeing the construction of Canada's first transcontinental railway. But there was so much more. He got CPR in the hotel business and participated in the design of the Château Frontenac in Quebec City and Chateau Lake Louise in Alberta. He also got the railroad into ocean liners.
In 1891, Van Horne started constructing, out of sandstone, his summer cottage on Minister's Island. He named it, Covenhoven, after his father. After lots of modifications and design help from Montreal architect Edward Maxwell, it became a 50 room residence. He also built a barn, bathhouse, carriage lanes, windmill pump house and greenhouses. It was here he pursued his passions of zoology, painting, art collecting, gardening and playing the violin.
Van Horne attracted many of his wealthy friends to make nearby St. Andrews their summer homes and that established the town as Canada's first and oldest seaside resort.
After Van Horned died, the property went to his daughter. After that, the Island changed hands several times over the years. A few businesses couldn't make a go of the place because it's only reachable in low tide. Eventually the Province purchased the property in 1977 but most of the contents were sold before by auction. The Van Horne Estate on Ministers Island, a non-profit local charity, was formed in 2004. They started running the Island in 2006. A lot of the possessions of Covenhoven have been brought back and a lot of the buildings have been restored. It's a wonderful place